May Guide

Welcome to this month’s guide. We are now in the last leg of the study year but with everything still to play for.

This month, I will cover two main topics. First of all, the CAO Change of Mind will open up in May. I explain what this means and re-emphasise the importance of order of preference and using both lists for Level 8 choices as well as Level 6/7 choices.

Secondly, stress within the household may be rising as exams approach and I address how this can be managed, with a reminder to help your teen retain a healthy balance of study and downtime.

CAO Change of Mind

The CAO is opening up again for the “change of mind” season on 5th May. So, what does this mean? When the registration was completed back in January, the applicant only had to fill in one course as a minimum. Many opted to complete their application then and filled in all their preferences.

However, from 5th May to 1st July, they can change their preferences either adding new ones in, taking others of the list completely or rearranging the order they are listed. There are exceptions to this – courses that have restricted entry can no longer be added to the list as these require other submissions over and above the Leaving Cert results, such as art portfolios, aptitude tests or interviews. The submission dates for these have now passed and submissions are being assessed.

If your son or daughter is using the change of mind facility, once again, it is worth refreshing the rules. They should be checking the genuine order of preference, even if they think they will miss the points for a particular course. If they are in shouting distance of achieving enough points it should be included at a higher preference than another course which may be second best for them. Remember the algorithm only selects the course highest on the list for which the candidate has enough points.

In addition to their main focus, they should also fill out both lists, one for Level 8 Honours Degrees AND on for both Level 6/7 courses. It is great for them to have a back up plan in case plan A doesn’t work out for them.

Study/Exam Stress Management

I am hoping there is some bit of stress in the lead up to the exams and it’s not all lying with the parents!

However, we don’t want stress to be all consuming for the student or the entire household. If your teen is displaying anxiety, it is a good idea to ask what in particular is causing the stress and see if you can work with them to address their issues.

At this time of the year, the teacher could well be putting on a lot of pressure by still assigning them homework for new material as well as expecting them to start revising. If this is overwhelming your son/daughter, it may help if you can assist them to work out a good study plan so that they can feel in control of the work that they have left to complete. Maybe they have to be strategic in the topics that they choose to learn for an exam if they feel that they cannot cover everything.

Over the next few weeks, it is still important for the students to maintain a healthy balance to their study. Good sleep, nutrition and rest is still crucial to maintain, and it is good for parents to keep an oversight of these, stepping in if something is going out of kilter. Sometimes, all the teen needs is an acknowledgement that their efforts are not going unnoticed and maybe tucking into their favourite meal.

An alternative cause of stress in an exam household is if your teenager is not studying. The lack of motivation to study may be because of other issues such as low confidence in their abilities or no view of their long term goals and/or ambitions. The leaving cert curriculum and schools tend to be academic focused which may not suit your child. Regardless of the Leaving Cert results, your adult children will find their own way and rise to the level that is meant for them. If they do not get a college place in September, there are multiple pathways and opportunities for them to gain a good career, but it may take a few years more to figure it all out. It’s worth remembering that if this is your situation, your teen (or you as parents for that matter) are not less than others who may get higher points or college places.


I want to wish you and your teenager a great run into the exams. It’s a long year with many stressful moments to overcome. But the end is in sight. If you have any questions, remember to jot them down and ask at our live Q&A session mid-month.